Nasty Neighbour dispute

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Every so often comes a gem of a lawsuit that simply cannot be ignored. Yesterday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released a decision on a particularly nasty dispute between two neighbours: Morland-Jones v. Taerk 2014 ONSC 3061

The plaintiff seeks an interlocutory injunction against the defendants essentially from being annoying neighbours.  It seems that the defendant had done various things in the past to irritate the plaintiff, the specifics of which are all detailed in the judge’s humorous decision. I highly recommend you read it. The decision is fairly short (only 29 paragraphs).  The antics of the neighbours caused the judge to say “In my view, the parties do not need a judge; what they need is a rather stern kindergarten teacher.” [paragraph 23]

Seriously now, for self-represented litigants, what you want to take away from this decision (other than from having a good laugh), is to understand why it’s important to have “causes of action”.  The common causes of action are negligence, battery, breach of contract etc. The reason why our already burdened legal system has this requirement is to avoid having to hear every frivolous dispute that may arise. I gather this case is one of them.  Note that Justice Morgan wrote at paragraphs 24-26:

As I explained to Plaintiffs’ counsel at the hearing, a court cannot order the Defendants to be nice to the Plaintiffs. Litigation must focus on legal wrongs and legal rights – commodities which are in remarkably short supply in this action…

There is no claim for pooping and scooping into the neighbour’s garbage can, and there is no claim for letting Rover water the neighbour’s hedge. Likewise, there is no claim for looking at the neighbour’s pretty house, parking a car legally but with malintent, engaging in faux photography on a public street, raising objections at a municipal hearing, walking on the sidewalk with dictaphone in hand, or just plain thinking badly of a person who lives nearby.

Well, at least, in this case, it is not a self-represented litigant who’s decided to bring an action that has no serious issues to be tried. What is also interesting to note is that the judge awarded no costs, as each side “deserves to bear its own costs.” [paragraph 29]

(Note: These posts are intended to be general legal information only. For legal advice that is specific to your case, please consult a lawyer.) 

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